Asthma is technically defined as a daytime variation in breathing symptoms. Asthma is grossly under reported and the current incidence of Asthma is estimated to be about 2.5% of the population in India. Asthma can present at any age and tolerance of symptoms often leads to a delayed diagnosis.
Asthma can be caused by many factors. In some cases it is hereditary, while at other times it is an allergy or climate induced. It can also be hormonal in women. Assessing the root cause helps to target the treatment. Upper respiratory symptoms are often associated in patients and needs to be addressed independently.
Investigating Asthma is simple. Blood tests often indicate an Eosinophilia (blood cell important in allergy response). Skin and blood tests for specific allergens can help find the cause. Breathing tests indicate the state of the Lungs and help assess progress. Home monitoring with a simple device helps the patient predict deterioration.
Timely and clear diagnosis allows optimal management will prevent permanent breathing disability.
Dr Supriya Sundaram, FRCP(London), FRCP(Edin), Consultant Respiratory Physician